Federal law-enforcement agents haven’t been exactly welcome at Black Hat, the security conference that approaches large-scale IT security from the cracker’s point of view.
This year they’re not welcome at all, at least at the larger Def Con conference that spawned Black Hat and is usually held in conjunction with it. The reason? The ever-growing scandal over revelations of NSA surveillance programs that allegedly capture data on millions of phone calls and emails by tens of millions of Americans.
The resulting hostility toward the NSA and other government intelligence or law-enforcement agencies could ruin the carefully non-confrontational atmosphere at the conferences.
Def Con and the feds who attend its “need some time apart,” according to a post from Def Con/Black Hat founder Jeff Moss, who is also known as Dark Tangent. “For over two decades Def Con has been an open nexus of hacker culture, a place where seasoned pros, hackers, academics and feds can meet, share ideas and party on neutral territory.”
“Here’s the thing,” wrote Errata Security’s Graham. “[Def Con is] not a fed convention but a hacker party. The feds don’t have a right to be there– the hackers do. If bad behaving hackers are going to stir up trouble with innocent feds, it’s still the feds who have to go.” Or not go, as the case may be.